In Robert's Rules of Poker, section 15 (Tournaments), rule 16, it says:

  1. New players to a table as a result of balancing tables are dealt in immediately unless they are in the small blind or button position, where they must wait until the button has passed to the player on their left.

This rule is observed by my local club and all casinos I have visited, but I don't fully understand the reasoning behind it.

The situation regularly occurs when the Small Blind has just been eliminated, and the tables are balanced. An incoming player sits in the eliminated Small Blind's seat (which is always the next Button position), but does not get a hand.

(To avoid any confusion, I'm not asking about the situation where an incoming player sits at an open seat that did not get dealt a hand in the previous deal. If a player sits down in an open seat between the previous Button and Small Blind seats then the button advances normally to the previous SB position, past the incoming player.)

In the quoted rule, I can understand why the Small Blind position is not dealt in, but not the Button position. Dealing the Button a hand would not affect the blinds in any way. Can anyone offer an explanation for why the button position is not allowed to have a hand?

2 Answers 2


But it could effect the binds.

The blinds would not move.

1  2   3    4  5

1  2   3    4  5
   CO  BTN  SB BB   

BB does not move

1  2   3    4    5
CO BTN SB   open BB

1  2   3    4   5
   CO  BTN  SB  BB 
  • OK, maybe I wasn't clear enough. The situation regularly occurs when the small blind has just been eliminated, and the tables are balanced. An incoming player sits in the eliminated SB's seat which is the next Dealer position, but does not get a hand. In your diagrammed situation, the button would move over the previously open position (the new player) to the previous SB. Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 18:59
  • OK you are considering another situation. I offered situation were it it does matter.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 19:12
  • The situation you described never applies because the button moves to the previous SB position (as it always does), so there is no question of the incoming player being in the button position. Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 19:15
  • To me you are still not clear. Sorry I could not be of more help. Not going to argue with you.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 19:19
  • 1
    Please accept my sincere apologies, I was not trying to argue, and I really do appreciate your attempt to help. I will add some more explanation to the question. Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 19:25

The misconception of the "Dead Button" is that the button can be placed in space at a place where there is no active player. The button should always be placed at a player at the table. That player is one that has paid blinds and is the last to receive cards on the deal. So if player were busted on the button or the small blind the button backs up, and yes a player can have the button twice. The button is the device that simply marks the player to be dealt in the last position.

Therefore, you cannot be dealt in on the button because coming from another table there is no button in the spot you are about to sit at, it always belongs to a player that was involved in the last hand at the table. Whom exactly has the button is determined by the factors of the hand before you got there, and only the players in the hand are eligible.

We are only confused here because people believe there is a dead button, there is no such thing.

Going over this thread some months later (7-17), I have some thoughts.

Roberts rule here is simply the way most people do it. However, it doesn't mean a tournament director could not do something different if they wanted to. (Roberts rules are not official anywhere unless someone decides to use them, and even then they are welcome to pick, choose and modify according to what they need and want).

There really is no practical reason that you could not deal everyone in after bringing in new players even if a few of them were under the gun between button and blinds. Its just a matter of ignoring Roberts rule, and codifying your own. For some reason that spot between button and blinds has been taboo to allow players to play in. But reality is there is no reason not to deal them in there besides that it just seems odd to people. In cash games that require posting players may post for there first hand between the button and the blinds. Why not deal in tournament players there?

  • Interesting. I've never come across that interpretation before, and if it's correct, it still begs the question 'why?' when it would seem much fairer to allow the incoming player to get a hand. At the risk of sounding argumentative (again), the very same Robert's Rules of Poker, section 16, Para 1, section (b) says this: (b) Dead button – The big blind is posted by the player due for it, and the small blind and button are positioned accordingly, even if this means the small blind or the button is placed in front of an empty seat, giving a player last action on consecutive hands.” Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 10:34
  • 1
    There is no functional difference between a dead button and the player who was on the button last hand retaining it, the same cards will be dealt to the same players and the same players will pay the blind(s). Whether you physically put the button in an empty seat or leave it with the player who had it last hand makes no difference, so as far as I can see, either approach is fine as long as everyone understands what's happening (which should be relatively obvious even if you don't know why it's happening).
    – 3N1GM4
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 11:17
  • Where the button is placed in no addressees the stated question.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 20:32
  • Thanks @3N1GM4 I can see there is no functional difference in the situation you describe where tables are not being rebalanced. However, in the situation I'm asking about, the button is not physically placed in front of an empty seat. It is in front of an incoming player, but he can't have a hand. The rule I quoted in the original question talks about the new player being in the button position, but says he is not dealt a hand. I'm just trying to understand whether there is a genuine reason. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 17:40
  • Fair enough, I was just addressing the discrepancy between the two situations, not attempting to answer the question, hence why this was a comment. Sorry if it wasn't helpful.
    – 3N1GM4
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 0:36

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